Former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, who has returned to lead his party into legislative elections after spending years abroad following a failed bid for a third term in office, has received a rapturous welcome.
The 91-year-old flew into Dakar Monday from Paris, accompanied by his wife Viviane. He retains a strong support base in Senegal, which is holding legislative elections July 30.
Wade has returned to head up the list of candidates for his opposition Senegalese Democratic Party. He is also heading up other opposition parties who are coming together in an effort to get a majority in parliament, and Wade’s return is key to that effort.
Security tight for return
Security was tight as those eagerly awaiting his arrival held up signs and cheered him. He stood waving from the sunroof of a car, dressed in blue and gold with a white scarf and black hat.
Wade last returned to Dakar in April 2014 as his son, Karim Wade, was to face trial for charges of corruption and illegally accumulating fortune. Authorities then had canceled a rally that was to welcome him, citing security concerns.
Karim, a former Cabinet minister, served half of his six-year prison sentence and moved to Qatar after being freed in 2016. Wade’s supporters said his 2015 conviction was evidence of a personal vendetta against the family. The Wades have dismissed the charges as politically motivated.
Wade finally lost to current President Macky Sall in the 2012 runoff, and withdrew abroad.
On July 30, Senegal will elect 150 deputies to Parliament. If Wade’s party obtains more than 75 seats, it will be a majority. Some critics have claimed he may have his party propose an amnesty law for his son, so that he can run in the presidential election of 2019.